By Rebecca Flannery
In light of the new college football playoff rankings and Baylor University hiring a public relations firm to help with national media attention, several rumors have spread about the intentions of the deal.
Throughout Twitter and on ESPN, commentators have discussed Baylor’s decision to hire Kevin Sullivan Communications, a public relations firm, as a way to boost Baylor in the rankings. However, Nick Joos, executive associate athletic director, said the department hired the firm to help with the increased media attention.
“We wanted to bring on some extra assistance on the national level,” Joos said. “We have a tremendous media relations staff, but we needed some extra hands to help with the national perspective.”
Twitter comments ranged from accusations that the firm’s purpose is to boost Baylor’s ranking in the playoffs to frustration over the most recent posting of Baylor as No. 6 in the NCAA ranking. A tweet from the official Whataburger account stated that Baylor’s disappointing ranking matches the same feeling as being left out of an invitation to go to the fast food restaurant.
Joos said any media coverage on the topic of hiring the firm as an attempt to lobby for a higher position in the rankings is a misrepresentation of their intent.
“It’s a shame that it has become a topic of conversation around the situation,” Joos said. “It’s not [the firm’s] mission to lobby for a position, but to strictly adhere to assisting us with media relations.”
Lori Fogleman, Baylor’s assistant vice president for media communications, said a high volume of media attention often warrants the need for help.
“Sometimes there’s so much demand that there’s a need for more hands,” Fogleman said. “We have an extremely competent media team, both for the university and athletics, but sometimes you need all hands on deck and then some more.”
Kevin Sullivan Communications is a firm with associates in Washington, D.C., New York and Florida. Joos said the athletic department hired them before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“[The agency] draws upon more than 25 years of experience at the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, NBC Universal, NBC Sports and the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks,” according to their website.
Joos said the department plans on using the firm through next week.